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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is hardly new—it was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. By now, all health care providers, including physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs), should be familiar with its requirements. But are you really? Let's reexamine the law.

Basics

HIPAA requires that covered entities comply with rules regarding the protection of patients' health information. So, what's a covered entity? What constitutes protected health information (PHI)? And how are patients and covered entities regulated by the HIPAA's 2 lynchpin rules governing privacy and security?

Covered Entities

First things first: Are you covered by HIPAA? If you are a PT or a PTA, yes! Providers, health plans, and health care clearinghouses all are subject to HIPAA requirements and face penalties for noncompliance.

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